New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27: Night 4
July 22nd, 2017
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

NJPW returned to Korakuen Hall for the third night in a row as the 2017 edition of the G1 Climax has really started to kick into high gear. This particular night features the second group of singles matches from the B Block, but before I get into that, here are the results from the undercard tag team matches that took place:

  • Kota Ibushi, Togi Makabe & David Finlay def. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, & Gedo)
  • Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & El Desperado) def. CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI & Jado)
  • Yuji Nagata & Tomoyuki Oka def. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuya Kitamura
  • Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, & BUSHI) def. The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, & Chase Owens)

As far as match quality goes, there’s nothing much to say here. Nagata & Oka vs. Tanahashi & Kitamura was probably the best of the bunch, with the open not that far behind. Unfortunately, there was a horrific event that occurred during the Six-Man Tag between The Bullet Club & LIJ. After putting Naito through the Japanese commentary table at ringside, Bad Luck Fale committed one of the most heinous crimes of 2017, as he ripped Daryl (Hiromu Takahashi’s cat) to shreds. While the rest of the world mourned the loss of Hiromu’s feline friend, Bad Luck Fale was rather disingenuous about the whole situation.

Because Daryl had gotten so popular, I had a feeling that if something ever happened to him, it would get a big response. However, I didn’t expect to see Daryl trending all over Twitter when I woke up that morning. In all seriousness, it’s amazing to me that, in the last twelve months, two of the most over things in all of wrestling having been a list and a stuffed cat. Obviously that speaks to the talent and ability of people like Chris Jericho and Hiromu Takahashi, but it also just goes to show that anyone can get anything over in wrestling if you’re creative and dedicated enough. If there’s a silver lining for Daryl lovers everywhere, cats are known for having nine lives, so maybe we’ll see him again. This whole incident also gets Bad Luck Fale over as a despicable heel (because only monsters would commit such an evil crime), so there’s that as well.

Toru Yano (2) def. Satoshi Kojima (0)

In an incredible piece of trivia, these two haven’t met in the G1 Climax since 2012. That’s an amazing stat, especially since both guys have been staples of the New Japan roster throughout the company’s current renaissance period. It’s safe to say that this was the first subpar match in this year’s G1. Now it shouldn’t be a surprise that a bout in the G1 involving Toru Yano would be the worst of the night, but for the most part, I generally have no issues with his matches. Yano has a specific role in this tournament, and he plays it to perfection. There have been plenty of Yano bouts in the G1 that I’ve enjoyed since I started actively following the promotion in 2013, and usually, he’s at his best in matches that are five minutes or less. However, it’s the longer bouts that Yano is involved in that are the most annoying, and that was the case here. This match went just over nine minutes, which was entirely too long. While Yano did meet Okada on Night 2 in a match that went a similar amount of time, that bout was far superior to this one. There was some fun comedy at the start that involved Yano squirting Kojima with his water bottle, and Kojima returning the favor a short time later, but other than that, this was incredibly average. Yano rolled up Kojima for the win (and got his first two points in the process) after hitting him with two low blows while he had the referee distracted. The fact that Tenzan was at ringside for this match actually made Kojima look like a fool (in my view) since Yano was able to outsmart both of them. **1/4

EVIL (2) def. Juice Robinson (2)

While the “King of Darkness” suffered a loss to his fellow LIJ member SANADA in his first match of the tournament, Juice Robinson is coming off a victory in his G1 debut bout against Satoshi Kojima. This wasn’t a matchup that necessarily jumped off the page when the cards were announced, but I had a feeling that these two would deliver a really good contest. In the end, they exceeded my expectations by having a fantastic match! There was some great action from start to finish, but they managed to tell a captivating story as well. Robinson came into this bout with neck issues (which Kevin Kelly & Don Callis pointed out on commentary), so he immediately went after EVIL in an attempt to end the match early. EVIL managed to survive this early onslaught, and went to work on Robinson’s neck. The match then built up from there, and it got to the point where the crowd was on fire for the final few minutes. EVIL would eventually get the win after series of awesome counters to score his first two points of the tournament. Even though he came up short here, Juice Robinson had (arguably) one of the best matches of his career. It’s amazing to see just how far he’s come in New Japan. I know that statement is a broken record at this point, but it’s worth repeating, especially now that he’s in the G1. Robinson has had two great bouts to kick off his first appearance in this prestigious tournament, and he still has a lot of juice matchups (no pun intended) ahead of him. ****1/4

Minoru Suzuki (2) def. SANADA (2)

One of the big positives surrounding Minoru Suzuki’s first appearance in the G1 Climax since 2014 was that he had a ton of fresh opponents to go up against. He clashed with Kenny Omega for the first time on Night 2 (a match that, while filled with great moments and amazing crowd heat, got some negative reactions due to Suzuki-gun interference), and here, he went up against SANADA, who was coming off a victory against his LIJ teammate EVIL on the opening night of the B Block. This was a really good match, but I wouldn’t call it great. There were certainly some cool moments in here, such as Suzuki struggling to fight off the Paradise Lock before ultimately failing, along with the great counters and exchanges in the closing minutes, but similar to Naito vs. YOSHI-HASHI from the night before, the middle portion of this one fell flat, at least in my view. Once again, we saw involvement from Suzuki-gun here, as El Desperado attacked SANADA on the outside with a chair, and later tried to attack him in the ring. While the Suzuki-gun interference definitely hampered the Omega/Suzuki bout on Night 2, El Desperado’s involvement here hurt this match more. We all know that Suzuki is perfectly capable of having great matches, but no matter what, the interference (unless it’s very brief) will always knock his bouts down a peg. With regards to SANADA, it’s interesting to note that, even though his first two bouts in this year’s G1 Climax were technically heel vs. heel, he seemed to be presented as the default babyface, and the crowds appeared to treat him as such. Ever since SANADA became a member of the New Japan roster last year, it’s been speculated that he could potentially be a big babyface singles star sometime down the road. He showed here that he absolutely could get to that point in the future, but on this night, despite his best efforts, SANADA ultimately fell to Suzuki’s Gotch-Style Piledriver. ***3/4

Kenny Omega (4) def. Tama Tonga (2)

In the past few years, matches in the G1 Climax that have involved two Bullet Club members have followed a similar pattern. Person A wants Person B to lie down for them. Person B is reluctant but goes along, only to kick out, and things get going from there. In this case, that’s not what we got at all, as Tama Tonga jumped Kenny Omega during his ring introductions. They’ve been slowly and subtly building up some tension between these two over the last several weeks. Tama Tonga feels that Omega cares more about himself, and focuses more on The Elite, than The Bullet Club as a whole. He used this match not only take out his frustrations (both physically and verbally, as he cut a promo on the mic during the bout itself), but as a chance to challenge Omega’s position within The Bullet Club. Omega refused to take this abuse, and took the fight to Tama Tonga. When the dust settled, these two ended up having a very good match. There was some really cool action throughout, and the story involved definitely added some intensity. It was such a breath of fresh air to see a matchup between Bullet Club members that didn’t involve the aforementioned chicanery. In the end, Omega emphatically put Tama Tonga away with a pair of V-Trigger knees followed by the One-Winged Angel. Afterwards, Tama Tonga did the Two Sweet salute with the rest of Bullet Club, and hugged Omega, seemingly putting these issues to rest (for now). ***3/4

As an interesting side note, Omega broke out some new attire on this show. He’s known for wearing black tights in serious situations, and multi-colored “rainbow” tights when he’s in tag team matches on the undercard. What we saw here was a bit of a mix, as he wore black tights but had some bright pink features thrown in there. I guess this attire is representing the convergence of those two different sides of himself, but that’s just me speculating.

Kazuchika Okada (4) def. Michael Elgin (0)

These two did meet in the 2015 G1 Climax (in Elgin’s first singles bout in New Japan), but that match took place on single camera, no commentary B Block show. This time around, they faced off in the more prestigious setting of Korakuen Hall, and boy did they deliver. This was an absolutely phenomenal contest, and it was easily the second best match of the tournament thus far (only Ibushi vs. Naito from Night 1 in Sapporo tops this). Aside from the slow start, this was filled with some incredible back & forth hard-hitting action, particularly in the second half. There were so many memorable moments in this match, from Elgin slamming Okada on the floor after catching him during his dive over the barricade, to Elgin’s awesome displays of power, to the constant reversals as each fought with everything they had to avoid their opponent’s biggest moves. Of course, Okada was amazing (as he always is), but Elgin was equally great. The fans didn’t seem overly behind him at first, but it didn’t take long for Elgin to fully win them over. It appeared that the audience was really rallying behind him at points, which just goes to show how good of a performer he really is. As I previously mentioned, the second half of this match was simply spectacular, and Elgin came close to winning on a couple of occasions, including a great counter of the Rainmaker into an Elgin Bomb. “Big Mike” gave Okada everything he had, and nearly took Okada to the time limit (the match ended just past the twenty-five minute mark), but once again, Okada proved just why he’s considered one of the best wrestlers in the world, and eventually put Elgin away with a tombstone and a series of Rainmakers that included the all-important (and well documented) wrist control. If you haven’t seen this match up, go out of your way to watch it, because it was outstanding. ****3/4

Final Thoughts

This second night of action from the B Block started off on a low note, ended on an incredible high note, and featured some really good stuff in between. It’s so odd that this show produced both the worst (Kojima vs. Yano) and one of the best (Elgin vs. Okada) matches in the tournament thus far. The former, while not overly terrible, was certainly bad by G1 standards. The latter nearly blew the roof off Korakuen Hall, and served as a reminder of just how good Michael Elgin is. The rest of the B Block matches all ranged from really good to great, with EVIL vs. Juice Robinson being the best of the bunch. If you discount Kojima vs. Yano, this easily could be one of the best shows of the tournament.

As far as the standings are concerned, when this show came to a close, the B Block looked exactly like the A Block. You had two guys clearly on top, a large logjam in the middle, and two guys at the bottom who have yet to score points.

Current G1 Climax 27 Standings

Block A

Hirooki Goto – 4 Points
Tetsuya Naito – 4 Points
Bad Luck Fale – 2 Points
Kota Ibushi – 2 Points
Tomohiro Ishii – 2 Points
Zack Sabre Jr. – 2 Points
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 2 Points
YOSHI-HASHI – 2 Points
Togi Makabe – 0 Points
Yuji Nagata – 0 Points

Block B

Kazuchika Okada – 4 Points
Kenny Omega – 4 Points
EVIL – 2 Points
Juice Robinson – 2 Points
SANADA – 2 Points
Minoru Suzuki – 2 Points
Tama Tonga – 2 Points
Toru Yano – 2 Points
Michael Elgin – 0 Points
Satoshi Kojima – 0 Points